Pierre congratulates Furcal
The remarkable Dodgers bullpen was instrumental in their series win against Colorado, holding the hard-hitting Rockies while the sputtering offense struggled to score runs. Los Angeles completed the series with a 1-0 win as pinch-hitter Rafael Furcal's single in the eighth drove in the winning run.
Despite an offense that has slipped in the last week or so, the club not only survived he 50-game absence of Manny Ramirez they thrived, crafting a 29-21, .580 record while he was serving his suspension.
The Dodgers calmed down, at least for a time, the incredible Colorado surge that began when former Dodgers manager Jim Tracy replaced Clint Hurdle.
In the first "crucial" series of the season, Los Angeles won 3-2 in 13 innings, lost 3-0 and then squeaked by with a 1-0 finale. They scored four runs in the series and won two games, holding Colorado to five runs.
“Only when you lose somebody like Manny do you realize that there’s no safety net out there,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “I continue to talk about how fortunate we’ve been with the number of close games we’ve won.”
The top five batters in the Dodgers lineup came up almost empty in the series finalé, going 1-for-16 with Juan Pierre's soft single to left in the sixth inning the only safety of the afternoon.
Overwhelming pitching featured in the series reached a climax in the final game when Clayton Kershaw, Ronald Belisario, Ramon Troncoso and Jonathan Broxton held the Rockies to three hits and only one over the first six innings.
Kershaw was vintage Kershaw this day. He was almost unhittable, allowing only a first-inning double in his five innings, but he walked five and stranded four, with a double play extracting him from a two-walk fourth inning.
One-hitter or no, he had 97 pitches on his record when Torre pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the fifth after James Loney had doubled and Juan Castro singled. Blake fanned and left both on base.
Kershaw had little trouble over the first two innings, but then his old, familiar control issues showed up again in the third.
With one out, he walked Hammel and center fielder Dexter Fowler, but after a visit from pitching coach Rick Honeycutt he retired Clint Barmes on one pitch and then got Brad Hawpe to ground out to short.
Cole Hamel matched him pitch for pitch, working a career-high eight innings and allowing five hits. He lost the game on his 100th pitch.
“One run can do it. That’s baseball. I made a good pitch,” said Hammel, who was 5-0 over his previous seven starts.
Then the Knights of the Bullpen galloped in one after another. Belisario allowed a double and a walk in his two innings, striking out three. Troncoso worked around the third, and final Colorado hit of the day, a single and was given credit for he win on Furcal's winning pinch-hit single after Brad Ausmus had singled to lead off the inning.
Broxton needed only nine pitches to finish the game and earn his 19th save. It was the Dodgers 17th one-run victory of the season.
Torre was nearly overwhelmed by the media after the game, asking about Manny's return.
"We're in first place, we have played well," Torre said. "We are aware of the crowd that Manny draws. We are prepared for it. Again, it is a distraction, and we cannot ignore the fact it is going to be there. We are ready for him to come back."
The Dodgers are off today, their final break before the All-Star game.
Friday they travel to San Diego for three games, then to the other side of the United States for three in New York and three in Milwaukee.
The starters for the Padres series:
Friday RHP Hiroki Kuroda (2-4, 377) vs RHP Chad Gaudin (4-6, 497)
Saturday LHP Randy Wolf (3-3, 3.61) vs Josh Geer (1-3 5.68)
Sunday Chad Billingsley (9-4, 3.112) vs THP Josh Banks (1-0, 3.38).
Score by innings
Colorado 000 000 000-0
Los Angeles 000 000 01x-1
Los Angeles ab r h bi ave
Pierre cf 4 0 1 0 .322
Kemp cf 3 0 0 0 .302
Hudson 2b 3 0 0 0 .294
Ethier rf 3 0 0 0 .257
Loretta 3b 3 0 0 0 .250
Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000
Loney 1b 3 0 1 0 .279
Ausmus c 3 0 2 0 .283
Martin pr 0 1 0 0 .246
Castro ss-3b 2 0 0 0 .333
Kershaw p 1 0 0 0 .174
Blake ph 0 0 0 0 .286
Belisario p 0 0 0 0 .000
Troncoso p 0 0 0 0 .000
Furcal ph 1 0 1 0 .240
Totals 27 1 5 1
Colorado 27 0 3 0
Two-base hits- Loney (16). RBI- Furcal (17).
S- Castro. LOB- Los Angeles 3, Colorado 7.
SB- Pierre (22). CS- Pierre (7). DP- Loney,
Castro and Kershaw.
Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era
Kershaw 5.0 1 0-0 5 5 3.49
Belisario 2.0 1 0-0 1 3 1.89
Troncoso (2-0) 1.0 1 0-0 0 0 1.94
Broxton (sv 19) 1.0 0 0-0 0 2 2.15
T- 2:28. Att- 40,445.
Dodger Blue Notes-- Dodgers pitchers struck out 39 Colorado batters during the three games, 16 of them were recorded by the bullpen. ...Andre Ethier was one of six nominated for "Clutch Performer of the Month" by Major League Baseball. Ethier collected nine home runs and drove in 22 during June. ...The Dodgers clinched the season series with Colorado by winning their 10th against two losses with the Rockies. ...James Loney was the nominee for the "Roberto Clemente Award" which recognized the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, shows sportsmanship, community involvement and the individuals contribution to his team. ...The Mets and Reds also won 1-0 games by beating Milwaukee and Arizona.